The UK has always been at the forefront of business and global trade. Our economy has many strengths: it is the fifth largest in the world, with the highest employment level anywhere in Europe and the best in our history. We can be truly proud of the fact that almost everyone of working age is in work and earning. We are home to many of the world’s most innovative companies, attracting a level of foreign direct investment that is the envy of others around the world. We lead the world in a breathtaking diversity of sectors from financial services to the creative industries to computing.
Yet we recognise the need to do more. Low productivity in our workforce and regional disparities have been stubborn issues that successive governments have struggled to address.
Our Industrial Strategy will do just that. It will build on the existing strengths of our country while creating the conditions for people, places and firms to thrive in the economy of the future. At its core is the mission to boost earning power for all. We will do this by investing in our people, promoting excellence in innovation, backing the businesses of the future and promoting the strengths of all places in our country.
This is a modern industrial strategy fit to tackle the grand challenges of our age: automation, decarbonisation and ageing, to name a few. It is forward looking and puts the innovators, disruptors and value creators of tomorrow, in cross-cutting technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, to the fore.
The vote to the leave the European Union marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our great businesses. I am very clear that the future of our industry is global. There is scarcely a product or a service made in Britain that does not make use of products or services from overseas – whether that is in capital equipment, components of products, advice and design or specialist labour. That is why the Industrial Strategy has openness, competition and free trade at its heart. As an island nation, international trade is instinctive.
We have the opportunity to ask what the world will look like in the next 10, 20 or more years, and shape our country accordingly. While this will not be a quick or easy task, it is one which any responsible government must undertake.
As a leading nation of enterprise, our great strength has always been our adaptability to change. And in this time of unprecedented technological and political change, I firmly believe the UK, as always, has the businesses, ideas, people and places to make every success of the opportunities these present.